One of the less talked-about changes in the envelope market is the increase in demand for packaging style envelopes and mailers. The many web-based distributors for various products (think Amazon) require versatile packaging in which to transport goods through the mail. Anyone who buys on-line has at some point received items in bubble mailers or similar products.
The bubble-lined envelope or mailer is probably the most popular product of this type. They come in a wide range of sizes generally starting around 4 x 7 to as large as 19 x 22 in some products. The envelopes are typically in an open end or catalog style (opening on the short side) although they are available in open side or booklet style as well (opening on the long side). The outside paper stock is either brown or white kraft. Many businesses prefer the poly bubble envelopes which are white plastic on the outside. The poly is less easily punctured in transit than the paper variety.
Most bubble envelopes are sold unprinted. However, some companies want to at least print a logo and return address; others are looking for more exciting graphics. Printing on bubble envelopes is only done on certain presses which are few and far between throughout the US. There are generally tight restrictions on the amount of coverage and colors. You cannot, for instance, print full bleeds all around on bubble products. When considering a printed bubble envelope, it’s best to consult with your envelope converter who can tell you what’s possible so you can plan.
Bubble envelopes are thick. That’s kind of the point as the air pockets provide protection for the item enclosed. However that can be a factor if you’re intending to mail something that significantly adds to that thickness. I’ve been talking to a marketing manager who was looking to mail t-shirts with the company logo to certain customers. She was hoping to mail as many as six shirts at once and was considering a large bubble envelope for that purpose. I suggested rather that she consider a simple poly bag since t shirts are not in any danger of being damaged in transit. She was a lot happier with that solution as not only did she save a ton of money but she was able to get a nice four color process graphic image printed on the bag as well.
Poly bags are an excellent and relatively inexpensive method for shipping goods. They are especially useful for articles of clothing as previously mentioned. Most of the major online retailers like J Crew use poly bags for transporting purchased items to customers. They will generally include a return bag which can be folded inside taking up little space. Obviously the light weight of the poly mailers is a major advantage when it comes to the high cost of postage and shipping. Poly bags can also be printed in almost full coverage front and back. There is a gloss finish option which shows ink very well.
A new product has entered the market called Soft Pack. This is an envelope with tear and moisture resistant paper outside and a thin, foam lining inside. Soft Pack has several advantages over traditional bubble lined products: it’s generally less expensive, the printing options are generally greater than on bubble envelopes, it lays flatter than the bubble envelope and we can produce the item in a wide range of custom sizes tailored to your particular needs. Product tests show the soft pack outer material to be more less likely to tear than paper from standard bubble envelopes. Bubble envelopes are available in tear-resistant tyvek but at a much higher cost.
Being thinner, Soft Pack envelopes require less space in the carton and hence more available storage space for end-users who use them in large volume. Also, both the outer shell and inner foam are made from recycled materials. Poly bubble liners are completely synthetic. The only disadvantage vis-à-vis bubble envelopes is they don’t provide quite as much protection for the contents. However, they are more than adequate for items such as smart phones or electrical components. Anyone looking for a bubble envelope should consider Smart Pack as an alternative. You can contact Elite Envelope for further information.
In my next post, I’ll cover board and other flat mailers. As always, your comments and information from your experience is always welcome.